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Ambassadors Group adding student food tour of France, Italy

Spokane’s Ambassadors Group will introduce a food-based variation for its People to People student travel program, giving a summer group a savory tour of the culinary culture of France and Italy.

The tour, costing $5,400 for 12 days, will start in Paris, travel to Nice and Provence, then take a bus to Florence and Rome.

The company traditionally sends guided student tours around the world, introducing participants to the history, culture and political system of the countries visited.

Food as a theme emerged as a way to package a tour for students because of student and parent feedback, said Nicola Balmain, the firm’s vice president of travel services.

The first group is likely to have 35 to 40 students from sixth to 12th grade.

The focus on food and cuisine fit the company’s educational goals, Balmain said. “Food and local cuisine are often at the root of cultural exchange. Knowing the history of how and why cuisine is made in each country and region is key to our students’ deeper understanding of the French and Italian culture and its people.”

The stay in Paris includes a day of hands-on training at Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy. They’ll also shop at Parisian outdoor food markets and schedule visits to iconic sites such as Versailles and the Eiffel Tower.

Later, the group will spend time in a restaurant and institute in Provence run by Michelin-honored chef Christophe Guibert.

At a later point this year or in 2015, the company will offer similar guided culinary tours for adults, Balmain said.

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